Friday, 26 October 2012

MUSICAL MEMORY #2: The Candy Thieves

THE CANDY THIEVES October 1988- September 1990 
Pete Fijalkowski - Guitar / Vocals, Wayne Peters -Guitar, Simon - Bass, Simon Harper - Drums, Wil - Bass, Krzys Fijalkowski - Guitar (one gig), Adam Watson - Drums, Pete's Panasonic Hi-Fi - Drums, Kevin Gritton - Drums
DISCOGRAPHY -' Head Inside' (4 song demo), 'Lush' (4 song demo), Homeboy/Underwater (Trolley Records Flexidisc 7"), 'Blow' (3 song demo)


High on the adrenalin rush of Bubblegum Flesh's shambolic first gig, I spent the summer learning to play the guitar and discovering the wonders of a barred E chord (which means you can play lots of different chords simply by moving an E chord up and down the neck without the need for any troublesome finger shape changes). I wrote a song which I recorded on my brother Krzys' four-track in Norwich, called 'Drink me Up' - a shameless rip-off of 'Coming Thru' by The Pastels, with a bit of  'Crash' by The Primitives thrown in for good measure. Maybe I'm making this sound kind of cool...When I tell you that it contained the immortal lines (and rightly much derided for years to come) "...Your love for me, is like a cold cup of tea..." you get an idea of what the levels of my song-writing talent were at the time. Wil looked suitably unimpressed when I played him the song, and it was filed under "we'll think about it later". Suitably frustrated at this block of my creativity I decided I was going to form my own band. Fate is a strange creature when you sit down and think about it, but had it not been for Wil turning down my sonic gem, The Candy Thieves would most likely never have seen the light of day and with it the knock on of Adorable, Polak, and beyond,  and you in turn would not be here reading these pages now. What would you be doing instead? What would I be doing?

I got together with fellow film-student Wayne who was into a lot of the same kind of stuff as me, though he drew the line at the Psychedelic Furs. Wayne both looked and played a bit like Will Seargent of Echo & The Bunnymen which was fine by me, and was a perfect foil for my simplistic guitar lines. Originally Wayne was to front the band as he had been the singer in a previous outfit in Somerset, but in the end it was decided that I'd have a go at mumbling and singing flat. We got 2 guys called Simon to play bass and drums, within two months we were playing out of tune and out of time to an enthusiastic crowd made up of girls who all had a crush on Simon the bass-player. 

Listening back to our first demo now, I can see little promise, but we stuck at it. Simon's good looks sadly outshone his bass playing abilities quite considerably, and though there was a sharp decrease in attendances at our gigs following his departure, we did all generally tend to be playing the same song at the same time. Wil was drafted into the fold on bass, and at the same time Simon Harper on drums felt it was all getting a bit too serious and left to concentrate on fronting his band The Ludicrous Lollipops who were to go on to release a handful of singles on Damaged Goods in the early 90's (as well as tour managing Adorable). 

We found ourselves stuck with a cassette of some ridiculously complicated drum patterns (programmed by yours truely) played through my old Panasonic hi-fi, and it was with this line-up that we recorded a second demo ('Lush') which we sent off to a dozen or so labels.  Rough Trade wrote back: "Dear Candy Thieves. This is quite interesting. Are you playing in London?" These 11 words were as good as an admission in our eyes that they wanted to sign us up. We analysed the letter again and again. "This is quite good" - well they didn't want to come over as being too keen, but two could play at that game and we kept them waiting by the phone for two whole days before we got back to them. We went down to the big City to hawk our wares. Rough Trade came. Rough Trade left. 

We started getting serious. 

My hi-fi had gotten stood on by a lard-arsed compere at a gig, and we replaced it's cracked plastic shell with the more human exterior of a young Scottish lad called Kevin. Things started looking up - we recorded a flexi that nobody could play and we finished second in a talent contest to a funk-covers band. Wayne, Wil and myself moved into a ramshackle house, with intentions of living some mad-cap Monkees-style existance. Crazy adventures every week tail-ended with a couple of new Candy Thieves pop classics. If only. We were broke, and starting to get frustrated that our continual jaunts down to London weren't paying dividends. 

During this period we wrote 'Homeboy', 'I'll be your Saint' & 'Pilot', which would later appear pretty much unchanged as Adorable songs, and we sent these three tracks out to twenty labels. We were convinced that we would crack it with these tunes, but despite a good live review in Melody Maker, and a write-up tipping us as 'one to watch' from the industry magazine Music Week, the initial vague interest from two or three labels slowly ebbed away. We felt a bit defeated and decided that the best way forward was to ditch our rather 80's sounding name, and trick labels to listen to our stuff again by sending it under a different moniker. Via The Adored we rested on Adorable, but before we could start plan b of our cunning ruse Wayne jumped ship, fed-up with the whole kaboddle.

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